A day before turning 36, I trooped to Tagaytay together with family for my annual birthday lunch. I can never emphasize enough how much this has become my happy place over the years and how I will never get tired of going back.
This year, Balay Dako is my restaurant of choice. It is a relatively new Filipino-Spanish restaurant in town and I have only heard good reviews. Price is not steep, and when you finally get to taste the food, you’ll be in for a great surprise. Value for money at its finest!
We got there at 3:30pm and the parking lot was still packed. I was getting a mental picture of how it would look like inside – crowded dining area with big groups chatting long after a meal is finished, like a typical Filipino would. But I was surprised to see how it did not feel cramped (at least not on that time of day) despite the number of guests dining at the same time.
Balay Dako, in native Visayan dialect, means big house. The restaurant does look like one. A typical Filipino ancestral house of rich, prominent families in the province with rooms big enough to accommodate the whole clan. Giant paintings adorn the receiving area’s light green walls. A receptionist welcomes guests and politely asks them to wait by the oversized white couches as the crew sets up the table.
The receptionist ushered us to the main dining hall a few minutes later. It was huge! Screened picture windows offered a good view of the famous Taal Volcano. Most guests were already leaving so we got to choose the perfect spot – right smack at the middle where the window frames the volcano perfectly like a painting. The view was so breathtaking the kids can’t help but gush over the beauty and immensity of the place! We were fortunate that while it was really cold, there was no fog that could have obstructed our view of the majestic Taal Volcano.
Our table was big and can fit 10 comfortably. It was not long before a server took our orders, and while waiting for our food to arrive, we explored the balay.
Balay Dako is a 3-story Spanish-inspired house. On lean hours, the lower and upper portions are closed and only the main floor houses the guests. Friends have shared that breakfast buffet here is such a big hit that guests flock very early to be accommodated because a house this big gets full especially on weekends.
On the main dining floor, there is a lechon carving station, a sorbetes cart, and a piyaya station where this native delicacy is made fresh while you wait. The lower ground floor which is called Silong is a huge dining area with floor-to-ceiling glass doors leading to a long balcony that serves as a view deck. The Silong is closed during lean hours but the balcony is still accessible through the side entrance where a ramp for PWDs is also available.
Our food finally came. It took a while but it was worth it! Kare-kare was thick with a heavenly peanut sauce. Binukadkad na Pla-pla was fresh, and the Crispy Pata and Chicken Inasal were the most flavorful amongst all I’ve had before. Everything was first-class! Food was so good I consumed about two cups of rice. The kids had sorbetes for dessert and we also had to try the hot piyaya to cap our meal.
There are still a lot I have to try. I am not really a fan of Filipino cuisine, but I would love to be here again to try their other bestsellers. Because more than the superb food selection, Balay Dako is a sanctuary that perfectly resembles home. A place where families and friends gather and share a sumptuous meal together while having meaningful, endless conversations.
Balay Dako by Antonio’s
Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway, Tagaytay 4120
Monday to Thursday: 11am to 9pm
Friday: 11am to 10pm
Saturday: 7am to 10pm
Sunday: 7am to 9pm